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Israel Vlodavsky, PhD

Israel Vlodavsky, PhD

Grant Status

Technion, Israel Institute of Technology

Grant Type
Project Grant

Project Title
Heparanase-2 (Hpa2) – a new player in protecting against cancer

Tumor Types

Research Topics
Breast Cancer, Cancer Treatment, Pancreatic Cancer

About the Investigator:

Dr. Vlodavsky studies how cancer cells interact with the material surrounding them, called the extracellular matrix. He received his BSc and MSc from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and his PhD from the Weizmann Institute, followed by postdoctoral training at UCLA and UCSF. He then established the Tumor Biology Research Unit at Hadassah Medical Center. He served as a Visiting Professor at Harvard, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and the Australian National University before he was recruited to the Technion, where he established the Cancer & Vascular Biology Research Center.

About the Research:

In previous studies supported by the ICRF, Dr. Vlodavsky and his team discovered an enzyme called heparanase that helps cancer grow and spread. The overarching hypothesis that guided their work was that heparanase is a master regulator of the aggressive phenotype of cancer and a prime target for therapy. A significant objective of his research was to develop an anti-heparanase treatment for cancer patients.

While heparanase has been studied extensively, Dr. Vlodavsky is also interested in heparanase-2 (Hpa2), which can inhibit heparanase and has received little attention in cancer research. He believes that Hpa2, expressed by tumor cells and their surrounding environment, acts as a tumor suppressor. Hpa2 works by stopping the heparanase enzyme, which is known to help cancer spread. The heparanase/Hpa2 ratio can affect cancer progression or suppression. While heparinase enhances the pathogenesis of cancer, Hpa2 plays a protective role in the inhibition of heparanase’s enzymatic activity.

The proposed research focuses on pancreatic and breast cancer and is aimed at characterizing the clinical significance of Hpa2 in early diagnosis and suppression of tumor growth and metastasis. The team will investigate the tumor suppression features and molecular mode of action of Hpa2 contributed by the tumor cells and normal cells residing in the host and the tumor microenvironment. Based on promising preliminary findings and long-term expertise in cancer and heparanase research, Dr. Vlodavsky hopesto make significant strides in advancing Hpa2 research. Given the potent tumor suppression activity of Hpa2, it is hoped that Hpa2-based therapy will become a viable treatment option for cancer patients.

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